Business News

In Business News: new figures show GDP growth in 2006 was 6.1 percent, equalling the record set the previous year; the average monthly wage has passed the 20,000 crown mark; unemployment is at its lowest level in eight years; Czech Airlines makes a smaller loss than expected; Czech Railways sees a slight increase in passenger numbers; the road tolling system could be intensified considerably, says the transport minister: and Skoda reveal the newest version of their popular Fabia.

GDP growth in 2006 equals 2005 record

There has been a lot of positive news for the Czech economy this week. The biggest story was perhaps that GDP growth in 2006 was 6.1 percent, equalling the record set in 2005. Analysts had expected a rise of 5.9 percent last year. They also say the growth of the Czech economy has probably peaked, citing a lower level of growth in the last quarter compared to the rest of 2006. But either way, the Czech economy is one of the fastest growing in the European Union.

Average monthly salary breaks through 20,000 crown barrier

Another reason to be cheerful was that the average monthly wage in the Czech Republic passed the 20,000 CZK (935 USD) mark for the first time ever last year, according to figures released this week. The average wage rose by 6.5 percent in 2006, which is 3.9 percent in real terms.

Unemployment at lowest level in eight years

Photo: archive of CRo 7 - Radio Prague
Meanwhile, unemployment has fallen to its lowest level in eight years. In February the percentage of jobless stood at 7.7 percent. That represents a marked improvement on February 2006, when 9.1 percent of Czechs were unemployed. Analysts said the weather was responsible - a mild winter has allowed outdoor building work.

CSA makes smaller loss than expected in 2006, hoping for profit this year

There was also good news from Czech Airlines this week; it made a smaller loss in 2006 than expected, just under 400 million CZK (18.5 million USD) instead of the 485 million it had projected. CSA president Radomir Lasak said 2007 should see the company go into the black; that should provide food for thought for the Czech government - it has talked for some time of privatising the national carrier if it began making a profit again.

Czech Railways sees rise in passenger numbers to 180 million

Illustrative photo: archive of Radio Prague
Czech Railways also says it expects to go from loss to profit this year. The company also said this week there had been a two-percent increase in passenger numbers in 2006 compared to the previous year - last year over 180 million people travelled by train in the Czech Republic. Czech Railways invested roughly 2 billion CZK (93 m USD) in fleet renewal in 2006 and says it wants to continue modernising this year. Selected railways stations, including Prague's main station, are also being renovated.

Tolling system could take in lesser roads, smaller vehicles

The Czech Republic's heavy vehicle tolling system - introduced at the start of this year - could be intensified considerably, Hospodarske noviny reported on Friday. As well as motorways and principal roads, charges could be levied for the use of second and third class roads, Transport Minister Ales Rebicek told the daily. What's more, the spectrum of vehicles tolled could increase to include those weighing 3.5 tonnes - that would affect most large vans.

Skoda launches new version of Fabia

Skoda launched a new, more spacious version of its Fabia at the Geneva auto show this week. A spokesperson said Skoda were planning to produce 120,000 Fabias this year, out of a total of 600,000 vehicles. Also unveiled at the Geneva car show was the new Hyundai i30, which will be produced at a plant currently under construction in north Moravia.